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When an opponent raises pot sized bet on the river after its checked to him/her, and stays very very still, doesn't respond to comments and doesn't move at all, does it mean they are very weak or very strong?

I am sure it could mean both, what the action is in previous rounds etc but I am asking about it as a tell...?

Basically what does a pot sized bet on the river plus bettor acting stiff tell you about a bet?

  • 1
    I don't know about this specific tell but a great resource for this is Caro's Book of Poker Tells – user1165 Feb 2 '15 at 18:26
  • I have read caros book of tells already – nolawi Feb 2 '15 at 18:33
  • I think you said it yourself: "I am sure it could mean both." I think you might get a better response if you can clarify this with more context from the situation in question. – Chris Farmer Feb 2 '15 at 19:46
  • I have made an update – nolawi Feb 2 '15 at 20:08
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This depends A LOT on:

  • the player's body language baseline
  • in the past, what kind of hands he showed at showdown after doing this
  • whether or not he was happy if other players folded to him in the same situation. Being happy usually means your bluff worked. Being sad means he didn't extract all the value he wanted from the hand
  • and others (obviously, it's a vast field)

Actually, I've read about this exact behaviour in Joe Navarro's poker book of tells.

It all has to do with the brain limbic system who, being more primitive, also has more control over our body. Being frozen like that after you make a bet is equivalent with the freeze-flight-fight response (triggered by the brain's limbic system and the sympathetic nervous system).

Your instinctual freeze after a big bet is similar to saying:

I'm bluffing, I don't want to attract any attention on myself, so I'm going to lie perfectly still.... like a gazelle on the savanah that doesn't want to be seen by the lion.


A little offtopic, but I feel it needs to be said:

Please keep in mind that recognizing and using body language tells to your advantage is as much art as it is science... and a hard one. Getting good at it is of course kind of awesome, but be realistic about its uses at the poker table and about your abilities in its regard.

Most players have a romanticized view of poker because of poker TV-shows that put too heavy accent on body language. Don't forget: first and foremost poker is a mathematical game.

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It of course could be both.

If you just sat down in the game and you don't know the player you are kind of in the dark with this one and need to have a very narrow range of hands that you are going to call with. Like playing online, you calculate your risk.

However after you have played with the player for awhile you will be able to be more accurate with what is going on. Most if any players do not freeze every hand on the river. So just the fact that they have turned into a statue may give you a clue to the strength of their hand. What kind of statue they are may also give you a clue. They may turn into a statue that is staring at you, or a statue that is staring someplace else.

Having said that, if there is any tell to be had here it is in the persons eyes. Generally speaking if the person can't sincerely look you in the eye they are bluffing. Emphasis on sincerity in their eyes. It is a well known tell that a player who cannot look you in the eyes is bluffing that the more sophisticated players know, and they will look you in the eye. But the eyes are wonderful things that project mood and emotion in very subtle ways. So you often can get a good accurate tell when the look you in the eyes on a bluff.

Most good players are rather consistent with the stance they have after they have made a bet, rather it is the bet the OP described or not. However if they tend to turn into a statue looking away, and other times facing you in the action, it can be telling. If they are looking away it will often mean that they have the nuts or are on a stone bluff, its not critical to them what happens, you are either going to call or not and watching that is not important. If they face the action, they may be concerned about the strength of the hand, it is strong but not the nuts and they want to be in a position to better determine what to do if you raise.

It is important to say that the tells for most of us poor mortals in the situation described are terribly unreliable. It is important to repeat that the more you know about the player the more accurate your conclusions will be in this situation. Most of the information you need is collected before the player turns into a statue, while they are still moving, stacking chips to push, fidgeting, or whatever it is they tend to do or not do right before they make the push.

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